Essay: Human Rights in China

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¶ … Human rights in China

China's human rights condition has long been questioned by the world. The large population of the People's Republic of China is facing problems in civil, political, cultural and religious freedom. China's population is one of the world's largest and its economic strength is entirely dependent on the masses. For such a large population the international community has expressed its concern over the human rights conditions. China has been asked to relax the strict authoritarian manner of government and bring it towards democracy and human rights.

I have chosen the human rights conditions of china for this position paper. China has always protected its sovereignty and has maintained that the internal affairs of the country are to be solved internally. The international community calls for same human rights standards for all the countries. But the Chinese and other eastern cultures have argued that human rights definition should be subject to the varying developmental stages and the traditions of the country being considered.

To quote Mr. Liu Huaqiu, the Head of the Chinese delegation at UNCHR, the Chinese point-of-view comes across very clearly. He stated

"The concept of human rights is a product of historical development. It is closely associated with specific social, political, and economic conditions and the specific history, culture, and values of a particular country. Different historical development stages have different human rights requirements. Countries at different development stages or with different historical traditions and cultural backgrounds also have different understanding and practice of human rights. Thus, one should not and cannot think of the human rights standard and model of certain countries as the only proper ones and demand all countries to comply with them. [Liu Hoagie 1995, p. 214]" (Angle 1)

This clearly indicates that China is a supporter of human rights but the stage of development of the country requires a different standard of human rights in different countries. Countries in their developmental stages may not be able to cope with all the political and social reforms and continue its development. China holds that the country's stability is an essential requirement to continue its economic development. China's stand on human rights is that the UN holds a very rigid view of human rights which is based mostly on the liberalized western views and fail to accommodate the Chinese values. China calls for flexibility in this definition keeping in view their own values that allow for some extent of authority (Angle 5).

China has been criticized for its violations of human rights in the forms of civil, political, cultural, and religious freedom. In the recent years as the educated youth of China have pressurized the leadership to cooperate with the international human rights movements. China has to this end signed on to the United nations Conference of Human Rights. But conflicting state policies have led to unsatisfactory results. (Foot 21) the human rights situation in china as portrayed by the western media is troubling. But China has criticized the western media for its biased reporting for their own benefit. The Chinese values play a role in their continued resistance to the international appeals to broaden the spectrum of human rights beyond borders and make it an international issue. Chinese values as stated by Mr. Liu Hiatus call for some authority. West derives criticism on china from the way it has handled human rights activists (Angle 2).

China has a defined and arguably harsh punishment for speaking against the government. Freedom of the press, which is considered a basic human right in most of the world, has quite a narrow definition in China. Censored news channels and print media are thought to be against human rights in the world but China supports them as a means to protect the stability of the country and insists that proper freedom is provided to the people ( Hashimoto 110).

Certain rights that are deemed essential in the west such as political freedom is limited to the Chinese. The Chinese value system is different from others in that they stand for greater uniformity and less criticism by opponents. The One party system in China is now unacceptable to the world and thus out-dated but Chinese culture calls for protection of its traditions as the eastern world still holds on to its traditions more closely than the west ( Angle 99).

China's treatment of the detainees has received attention from global organizations. Chinese system allows the accused to be detained without a proper trial. World human rights organizations have repeatedly requested the Chinese government to improve the state of the detainees and to prevent them from any harm while in detention. NGOs such as Red Cross provide food and supplies to the prisoners. Amnesty International at one point found the number of political prisoners to be as high as 800 but now that number has dropped as the NGOs can now plead the cases and ask for trials.

Tibet is another issue that has drawn criticism from the west. Tibet is an autonomous region in China. In 1988, a disturbance arose in Tibet. The international community noted the mistreatment of Tibetans. At one point, America declared that its relations with China will depend on the issues of Tibet. China held their sovereignty as the only defense. Later the West also, to some extent, accepted that China had a right to respond as Tibet is a part of China.

China's value system is deeply rooted in the social and economical system of the country. The recent urbanization has led to somewhat uprooting for the cultural values but economic system still relies greatly on the eastern values. China supports progress but not at the expense of its culture. The progress has been made on their own terms without any outer help as the IMF and other loan systems. They deem right to subsistence greater than any other. The enormous masses of Chinese people have been utilized to bring about the industrial progress ( Hashimoto 110).

Thus, the Chinese are right in assuming that their policies have paid off. China is an independent country and has proved its might time and again. China defends the withholding of certain rights to prove that to be a great nation authority and uniformity is needed. Their strength has made it possible for them to get their way as strong countries tend to do so. But all the developed countries have to, at some point, coordinate with the other countries and for this purpose China is now showing a slight flexibility in its views of complete control over the people ( Hashimoto 135).

Where China holds the cultural and conservative point-of-view, the growing concern in the world about human rights has led to the formation of many different organizations. These organizations act globally to take notice of all the human rights violations. The world has now become a global village. Round-the-clock news channels bring every news to the front. The western countries provide their people with all types of basic as well as special rights which is why they are unable to sympathize with the Chinese cause.

In his book Angle expresses the theory that rights are inherent, not meant to be granted by anyone. That Chinese culture believes the idea of individual rights to be western. And that a historical analysis of the Chinese texts proves that it is not only authority that is required as a result of all this, it is merely "economic control" (Angle 113). Thus according to Angle, historically, China is concerned less with human rights and more with economic prosperity. It is not completely odd that the world is unable to understand China's continued secretive ways because of the open tolerance that the world now is pushing for. Tolerance is always the better solution but China has a long way to travel to show the kind of tolerance the west is providing for their own people and are demanding of others.

China can rectify its status as an authoritarian country by participating with the various international organizations for human rights protection and gradually work the way to a better future for the people of China and improve the global human rights conditions. China being a great power has a great deal of influence in the world. It is perhaps because of that, China is able to hold the stern views and have their way but it would serve the world greatly if this huge power develops an understanding with the other powers to ensure human rights prevalence.

The international organizations should convince the Chinese government in a more persuasive way rather than by way of continuous criticism. China has been on various occasions been subjected to bans and boycotts as a protest for human rights violation and for not letting international human rights organizations to bring individual cases to public view. These prove to be nearly futile as it is, after all, up to the Chinese to understand the necessity of providing their citizens with rights that the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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